You Can Now Use IHG Points At Kimpton Hotels, But For How Much?

Kimpton is a boutique hotel chain made up of 65 distinct properties in 34 cities. Each of their hotels have a distinct design style and offer an original experience different from most other hotels. In December of 2014, IHG (the parent company of Holiday Inn and InterContinental Hotels, amongst others) entered an agreement to buy Kimpton. A collective sigh could be heard in the miles and points world. It was as if the voices of Kimpton loyalists suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Sorry, too obscure of a Obi Wan Kenobi reference? Back to Kimpton.

Kimpton hotels have some pretty cool things that differentiate them from other hotel chains. The hotels are totally animal friendly as per their website:

OK, we admit it. We have an animal attraction. Can you blame us? At every Kimpton boutique hotel, we invite you to bring your furry, feathery or scaly family member — no matter their size, weight, or breed, all at no extra charge. If your pet fits through the door, we’ll welcome them in. There’s more to our pet-friendly policy than just a no-fuss check-in and scratch behind the ear, though. We’ve got all the goodies you need to keep your pet pampered. Plus at certain properties our Directors of Pet Relations are on hand (or paw, as it were) to give you and your buddy a tail-wagging welcome

They also have complimentary tea and coffee in the lobby every morning and a wine hour every evening. Want to work out? They’ll even provide yoga mats or loaner bicycles.

Much hand wringing went on over how much IHG would change the Kimpton brand. Would they try to fit it into their other brands or let the properties run as they were but just under the IHG umbrella? Until now, there haven’t been many changes to Kimpton and they’ve been running things much the same way they were before. But just recently, IHG announced the beginning of bringing Kimpton into the rest of the company by ending the Kimpton Karma Rewards loyalty program and merging it into the IHG Rewards Club at the beginning of January. Many of the perks available to higher level Karma Rewards members are now also available to top level IHG members when staying at Kimpton hotels and vice versa. One of my favorite perks of Karma Rewards was the Raid the (Mini)bar credit. Basically they gave you a $10 credit on whatever you wanted from the minibar or a drink from the hotel bar. This benefit is now available to any Gold Elite IHG member or higher when staying at Kimpton hotels.

Kimpton-Raid-Mini-Bar

Now that the IHG has incorporated Kimpton hotels into Rewards Club, you are able to redeem your IHG points (and IHG credit card benefit) for free nights at Kimpton hotels. It’s not lost on me that IHG announced the changes to the Rewards Club hotel pricing for next year the same week they rolled Kimpton hotels into the program. I wanted to check out how many points IHG is going to charge for these upper end Kimpton hotels.

I started by looking at a Kimpton hotel we just visited, the Kimpton Amara Resort and Spa in Sedona, AZ.

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We stayed at this hotel in 2007 with our Adventures by Disney tour before it was a Kimpton hotel and returned there to watch the sunset during our trip this year. It’s a wonderful hotel but was over our price range for this trip. Apparently IHG knows this will be a premium property and will charge 65,000 points per night. Remember 60,000 used to be the highest rate for any IHG hotel until the most recent increase (that hasn’t even taken effect).

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I also checked out cities where Kimpton has multiple hotels. I knew they had several properties in Chicago, as we just stayed at the Kimpton Allegro this summer.

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Here are the number of points needed for a free room at these Chicago hotels.

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As a comparison, here are the points needed for the most expensive non-Kimpton IHG hotels in Chicago

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Wow, the Kimpton hotels are pricing as expensive as the InterContinental Magnificent Mile. I’m starting to see why IHG introduced the new 70,000 point level, as it allows them to place the Kimpton properties at the 50,000 – 60,000 point range but still leave the 70,000 tier for the highest end locations.  Just as an additional point, how good is the Holiday Inn Express in Chicago that they charge 40,000 points a night to stay there?

What about Portland, OR? We stayed there before I know they had several Kimpton’s in the city. How many points would those hotel need for a free night?

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Hmmmmmm. All of them are 50,000 points a night.

What about Washington D.C.? I know there are a bunch of Kimpton hotels there. Actually, I found our there are twelve of them. Here are the prices:

Starting at 65,000 (almost topping the IHG scales), and down to 40,000 if you want to consider staying in Baltimore the same as Washington D.C. (which I do not).

I wanted to check another city that I knew something about, New York. I’ve never looked at the Kimpton hotels there because there are so many options in Manhattan and we already have our favorites.

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Wow. Two of the hotels are the highest tier IHG property at 70,000 points a night and the Ink48 comes in just behind at 65,000 points. How does that compare to other IHG properties in Manhattan?

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Of course, these are the current prices of these hotels. The number of points needed to stay at these hotels will be increasing on January 16, 2018, as the InterContinental hotels will be increasing to 70,000 points a night and the Crowne Plaza Time Square will go up to 60,000 points. Even with that, the Kimpton hotels are entering the IHG program as some of the most expensive properties to book with points.

IHG points normally sell for 1.15 cents apiece, but you should never pay that much for them. I purchased them for 0.575 cents during one of the many sales that IHG ran last year (and apparently will continue into 2018). It’s possible to buy them for even less by using the method described here. I normally don’t share hacks but this one is very well known and I don’t think there’s any risk of it ending anytime soon.

So figure 0.575 cents a point. Here’s how that works out for out-of-pocket cost:

  • 40,000 points – $230.00
  • 45,000 points – $258.75
  • 50,000 points – $287.50
  • 55,000 points – $316.25
  • 60,000 points – $345.00
  • 65,000 points – $373.75
  • 70,000 points – $402.50

Are these hotels a good value for points required? Let’s see…

For the dates I was searching, The Muse in New York would cost $300 a night or 70,000 points. Since the points are worth more than the cash price of the room, you’d be better off just to pay for the room.

Amara in Sedona was more expensive for a cash rate, costing $375 per night plus a $27 a night resort fee. The 65,000 points per night would be about the same value, but without having to pay the resort fee. Still not a great value when you’re breaking even.

One more check with the Hotel Palomar in Washington D.C. This hotel would cost 55,000 points per night, or you could book for $289 a night. It’s clearly better to book with cash instead of points.

Given, I’ve only searched for three hotels on a specific set of dates, but it appears that IHG has set the point values of the Kimpton hotels at the upper range of their redemption values. As with any hotel, it may be possible to find an amazing redemption with points for a specific stay but you really need to be aware and compare the cash rate with the points needed. They may eventually bring these point values more in line with the rest of the IHG hotels but for now, they seem to have a premium price point.

One great thing to come from Kimpton’s integration into the IHG Rewards Club program is that you can now use the free night from the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard at any of the Kimpton hotels (if there are award rooms available, of course). The $49 annual fee for this card would more than be made up for if you can use your free night at one of the Kimpton hotels.

I might use my free night at a Kimpton hotel next year but I’m going to make sure it’s a good value before spending my points to stay there.

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